The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) is the Department of Agriculture’s chief scientific in-house research agency. Its supports over 750 research projects within 17 National programs, 2000 scientists and post docs and includes 90+ research locations, including overseas laboratories.
Administrative & Financial Management (AFM) provides a wide array of business services to support the research, education and economics missions of the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), Economics Research Service (ERS), National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). AFM's business services include financial management, travel, human resources, homeland security, acquisition, property, facilities engineering, safety & health, information technology and extramural agreements. AFM is a geographically dispersed organization and had undergone a significant re-alignment to meet its customer service objectives.
In 2012, AFM consolidated service delivery for all 11 AFM functions into 3 Business Service Centers (BSCs). This organization structure was tied in with the Secretary's "Blueprint for Stronger Service"-- building a modern and efficient service organization. The technology solution at that time was not able to support the work the geographically dispersed organization for work request tracking associated with all 11 AFM functions.
AFM was seeking technological innovations that were better suited to respond to 21st Century challenges for customer service, work transparency and accountability.
Creative developed the Cloud technology based work request tracking application for Agriculture Research Services (ARS) Administrative and Financial Management (AFM) Division.
Creative worked with AFM leadership to review the business processes and recommended the approach to change the routing of these work requests from individuals to a group of specialists. It reduced over 1500 routing rules to less than 50 queues that are now monitored by the functional area specialists. We developed the solution using Salesforce.com to manage 100+ work request types/cases. Our solution provided the following capabilities:
Creative has been supporting the AFMCSP program for two years. In first year of the Program, Creative utilized Iterative application development approach to build the basic Customer Request Routing for the various functional areas. We supported business process re-engineering across all functional areas and implemented the system in three distinct Phases:
The phased approach was well received by the portal users (Customers and Service Request specialists) since it enabled them to engage in a collaborative manner to ensure the business process alignment.
During second year, Creative helped ARS adopt the Agile development approach, with Sprint based approach. The development of key areas included 12 Sprints focused on e-forms automation through PDF generation, partner agency setup for AFM services, Data Calls Module, and Integrated Project Management module. All the Sprints (development and release cycles) constituted requirements gathering and validation using user stories, configuration and development, testing, user-training and rollout, using our Agile (Scrum) framework.
In the first year of the program, AFM realized several key benefits from the customer service portal, that align to their mission of providing high quality of customer service and satisfaction. These include: